Friday, December 14, 2007

Pencils Down

With no time left on the clock, Fall Semester officially came to a close today at 5pm. The students have packed up and taken off for the month and my sleepy little town has now officially become sleepy again, if just for a little while.

When the students are here, for better and for worse, this is a different place. There is a kind of buzz and excitement from faces younger than mine. There is optimism that can be downright infectious and an innocence that you might like to tweak on the cheeks because its simplicity is downright adorable and betrays that all-grown-up persona so wonderfully. But on the reverse side of the coin, there is that grating sense of entitlement that seems to seep from the pores and cellphones and laptops and BlackBerrys of students who feel as if things are owed to them. There is the know-it-all attitude from those who really don't, and the all-encompassing cloud of pessimism that should be reserved for an older relative ... on that side of the family.

Students live and move in herds which can be disconcerting to those not used to their daily migratory patterns. Over the years bar night has gradually moved up, and now Thursday is the new Friday, and Thursday night bar night is when students must go out and see what there is to see. They go to class together, eat lunch together, and hang out at coffee bars until all hours of the night, drinking and noshing as if they were at very expensive troughs partaking of the sweet caffeinated nectar of the Gods.

For those of us who consider this place a permanent residence, we do our best to coexist. Some go out of their way to introduce themselves to the opposing team. Others simply grumble behind their back. We put up with increased traffic, neighborhood noise and longer lines everywhere we go. Intellectually we know it's a part of university life, but emotionally there is always a small part that just can't wait to see them leave.

Once the last car filled to the brim with dirty laundry has left campus, those of us left tend to look at each other with a deer-in-the-headlights kind of stare and just sit and slump for a minute. There is satisfaction at the finish line of a semester, but unlike the students, we cannot go home and have someone feed us, give us shelter and bring us clean, folded socks in the morning. This is precious time, and as tempting as it would be to sit around and engage in high-stakes thumb twiddling, semester break is the time clean up, catch up and regroup before January.

So Godspeed, students. Have a wonderful break. The town won't be the same without you. But pardon us for a day or two while we think that's a really good thing.

Catch you in 2008. Clean socks and all.

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